An Invitation to Unknowing
by Lalitha Vasudevan - 2011
Background/Context: This essay is part of a special issue that emerges from a year-long faculty seminar at Teachers College, Columbia University. The seminarís purpose has been to examine in fresh terms the nexus of globalization, education, and citizenship. Participants come from diverse fields of research and practice, among them art education, comparative education, curriculum and teaching, language studies, philosophy of education, social studies, and technology. They bring to the table different scholarly frameworks drawn from the social sciences and humanities. They accepted invitations to participate because of their respective research interests, all of which touch on education in a globalized world. They were also intrigued by an all-too-rare opportunity to study in seminar conditions with colleagues from different fields, those with whom they might otherwise never interact given the harried conditions of university life today. Participants found the seminar generative in terms of ideas about globalization, education, and citizenship. They also appreciated what, for them, became a novel and rich occasion for professional and personal growth.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: At a time when there is increased hybridity in local and global citizenship, language and literacy practices, and performances of cultural identity and affiliation, narrowing of our ways of knowing can detrimentally impact how educators and scholars engage in intellectual inquiry and educational practice. This essay uses the mode of questioning to create a dialogue about the discursive, rhetorical, and even physical postures that educators and scholars might embrace when re-imagining everyday practices of teaching, learning, and research to be open to unexpected trajectories. Questions are woven together with descriptive vignettes of films, excerpts from research studies, personal narratives, and reflective analyses that invoke texts from a wide range of scholarly traditions in order to propose unknowing as a stance through which to engage more fully with and be responsive to a changing world.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Unknowing is proffered as a stance and a lens through which to re-imagine practices associated with educational practice and research to be more open to new ways of knowing. Rather than offering definitive recommendations, this essay concludes with an invitation for the broader educational community, and especially institutions of education, to reclaim an ethos of inquiry and possibility in the daily acts of seeing, being, becoming, belonging, and storying through which knowing and knowledge are enacted.
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